the dyrt
THE BEST CAMPING NEAR
Shawnee National Forest, ILLINOIS
166 Reviews 105 Campgrounds
Retrieving Results
EXPLORE
Most Recent Shawnee National Forest Camping Reviews
This is our camping spot!

I love camping at Rend Lake. More specifically, South Sandysky campground. It is clean, the shower houses are immaculate. It’s always fully stocked and clean. The beach isn’t littered with trash. It’s always a wonderful, relaxing experience every time.

Remote and rugged

Excellent for tent camping when you want relatively easy access and still feel a bit of solitude.

Remotely lovely

Tent sites with no electricity or water. Clean toilets and a covered pavilion for getting out of the rain when needed.

Beautiful camp

Very nice campground with electric and water.

Hickory - Site 99

The Corps of Engineers campgrounds at Rend Lake are very well kept and a safe bet for a weekend away. Showers are clean, bathrooms all “flush”.

Campsite sizes vary, but all are reasonably spaced.

Ranger Review of Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pants at Lake Glendale

Located in the Shawnee National Forest, this sweet little campground has it all. Wooded, semi private sites (at least for tents), full hook ups for RV’s, great campground hosts, CCC buildings, new shower house, amazing trails at Lake Glendale and other nearby areas. Even on a rainy afternoon, there were plenty of campers at Lake Glendale, which resulted in us not getting a preferred site (46) but a perfectly good site instead (49). The sites were spotless and well maintained, with some having space under the trees for tents and some having just gravel pads. Our site was close to, but not on, the lake with easy access via trails. There were a few sites with good lake views, with the majority of those in the RV loop. The trail around the lake is about 3 miles; a nice hike that really gives you a good look at the park. On the hike you pass two large shelters built by the CCC as well as the boat ramp, damn, and swimming beach. For more wild hiking, go down the road 15 minutes to Bell Smith Recreation area (which has its own campground) and hike to the natural rock bridge (and climb the steel ladder), springs, or Devils Backbone.

Rom Outdoors Vertical Limits Ski Pant

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, from time to time I get gear to test and review. On this trip I tested out Rom Outdoors Vertical Ski Pant. In the midwest we rarely get snow before Thanksgiving, and our little ski hill usually doesn’t open until close to Christmas (when they have been able to make enough snow for skiing), so I felt really challenged with this product. However, with a full day of cold rain and overnight temps in the low 30’s, I gave it a real go. A few weeks later we had a sizable snow (for early November and the St Louis area) and was able to further test these out. Here’s what I found: The pants are really waterproof! I didn’t get wet at all even after setting up and taking down a tent in the rain, hiking through tall grass in the rain, and later, hiking several miles in the snow. At first I thought the pants were a bit short and almost exchanged them for a larger size. But then I realized that they are designed with length in mind for wearing ski boots. And I could adjust them a bit by adjusting the suspenders. Overall I was very happy with the ski pants, if only we could have real snow and real ski hills.

Pro’s:

  • Waterproofing is solid
  • Tons of storage pockets that have double closures (zippers and velcro) to protect your stuff; side pockets are deep and large
  • Cuff zippers to help with putting on/taking off ski boots and to vent
  • Zippered vents on insides of the thigh area
  • Adjustable, removable elastic suspenders
  • Fleece lining is super warm and removable if too warm
  • Adjustable waist with velcro as well as belt loops

Cons:

  • Unisex sizing (women are shaped different from men!); no tall sizes for slim builds
  • Only comes in one color, black
  • No reflective areas
  • The adjustable waist is only adjustable by two inches overall
Well Priced Tent Options

This campground is the closest campground you will find to the downtown area while also being close to the Mississippi River. At first glance this location looks like it caters mostly to RV traffic, however upon closer evaluation there is a large tent area which offers sites with both electrical connections or without for a very reasonable $15 or $20.

The campground offers laundry and bathrooms which are well maintained and everyone visiting can take advantage of pretty strong wifi. When visiting this site cell signal with AT&T was fair making for a pretty luxurious feel overall and a great place to stay for the person wanting to get out but not be completely off the grid.

Tent spaces were pretty well spread out and had nice grassy pads. Many had their own picnic tables, while a few seemed to share.

The lake is more of a pond, but you can fish there or just enjoy the views which are pleasant.

Everyone at this campground seemed very friendly and there was a good mixture of different types of travelers in all types and styles of travel.

One of the most notable things about this campground is its proximity to town where you can enjoy so many activities including quilt festivals, the murals of the towns history entitled "Wall to Wall", museums and a variety of outdoor parks with activities throughout the year.

TIPS:

  • If you are stopping by this location make sure you check with the park to book in advance. This is a popular destination for those coming to the Annual Quilt Festival and books up during this week. Check in advance to make sure you aren't trying to just pass through when this is going on.

  • There are two areas of this camp, one has smaller spaces which are not ideal for pull outs and one where spaces are much more spread out. If booking in advance give a clear description of your rig to allow them to best suit your needs for accommodations.

Shady and quiet

This is a great state park campground. They have electric sites, and water is available but you need to fill your tank before setting up camp. Sites are flat and most are pull through. Giant City has great hiking and wildlife viewing.

Great family campground

Nice campground, right on Crab Orchard Lake. Large sites, lots of room. We camped with several other families and everyone enjoyed this park.

Lots of room

This is not a typical KOA. The spaces were large and roomy. Showers and bathroom were very nice, too. We didn’t use any of the other amenities because we were just passing through.

Outstanding state campground

We spent 8 days in the campground. The host was excellent and clearly there to make the stay pleasant. Each site has electricity and access to water. Some have more.

All the hiking in the park is some of the best in Illinois. The visitors center has a lot of great information. The lodge has some of the best fried chicken anywhere and is very reasonable. Saturday night the dining hall was packed because of the all you can eat venue not to mention the excellent service

This is a park that would be better labeled as an unforgettable experience.

Cave in Rock State Park

Very beautiful campground and park. Very spacious sites, and there was hardly anyone there , so it seemed like we had the campground to ourselves. So peaceful. The shower house was very nice and clean and had flush toilets. However the other restrooms were not so nice (pit toilets with spiders and mosquitoes everywhere). The campground host was really nice. Also note that there is no place to buy ice or firewood nearby. We crossed the ferry and went to Marion Kentucky and found some there. The park and ferry is really cool. There is a lodge that has a nice restaurant and a bar. If you want to buy alcohol the nearest place is Elizabethtown where they have a liquor store. Overall this is a wonderful campground and we will return someday!

Best view in illinois

We did not camp here though I wish we did. We did a lot of hiking all around Shawnee but this is by far favorite spot in Illinois!

Great hiking! This area has so much to offer, a weekend won’t do!

This wasn’t our first choice for a campground but Oak Point was full and sites were open here! I’m so glad that was the case as this definitely turned out to be an awesome campground. The sites are flat and open, but most are still shaded by a y’all tree canopy. The lodge and restaurant are a great way to escape the summer heat for a few hours! The Trillium Trail in the Park has beautiful views and rock formations. Get ice cream and walk the Secret Garden in Makanda. Lake Glendale is close by for swimming and kayak rentals. Of course you have to hike to the Garden of the Gods, but our favorite was the Little Grand Canyon. Both require some level of experience hiking and good hiking shoes/boots.

Go to Lake Glendale instead!

There is a minimum security correctional facility on the property. A boot camp. You will hear them from your campsite - it’s about it 300’ away from he campsites just on the other side of the woods.

There are no hosts nor is there a DNR officer who is on site. We were told he stops by every other week.

Other than that the park is clean and empty.

Untouched

This campground had just over 20 primitive sites. A well is near the entrance for drinking water, and the sites are very clean. Very quiet and remote. The park ranger said the campground is rarely used, but the upkeep is amazing. Miles of trails to explore with canyons, waterfalls, and the famous cliff jumps of bell springs.

Spacious, great trails, and even better views.

My brother and I camped here in September on a weekday. We were the only tent campers, so it was nice and peaceful. The sites are large and include a cooking grate. It was easy to find firewood with out having to go very far, becareful there is a good amount of poison ivy. The only trail I hiked was Happy Hollow. A large portion of it is an equestrian trail, so the path was very wide. The veiws on the trail were amazing.

Click here for my video.

Click here for my write up.

Wildflowers Galore!

Paducah is a cute little city in Kentucky that my family and I love to visit whenever we get the chance. The town is really cool, and has that "old" town vibe. The buildings are beautiful. There are actually a few campgrounds in this town, one of them "I-24." This campground has a country feel, and it more so for people who are traveling and making a pit stop to rest. There are a lot of RV's. There are quite a few beautiful rivers close by, and there are also 2 lakes nearby. We spent a whole day at the lake when we stayed. It was busy, but nice to be on the water. We saw people enjoying fishing, water tubing, water skiing and jet skiing. We also saw people on kayaks, which looked like a blast! There is a golf course nearby too, although we didn't enjoy this close amenity. One thing we did enjoy was hiking some of the trails nearby. We went late spring and the wildflowers were out in full effect. The colors of the flowers were gorgeous, and I couldn't help but take hundreds of pictures of these beautiful flowers. One of the hikes brought us to a point where we could see one of the lakes. It was magical. Also-side note, there is the "National Quilt Store" in the town, and of course we had to stop because my mom requested this. It was incredible how much fabric there was. If you are in to this, I would highly recommend stopping! The campground itself was "okay." It was a little run down, but since we were in our RV we didn't really notice it much. It was also pretty busy when we went, so I'm glad we made reservations ahead of time.

Gorgeous Winter hiking

Jackson Falls is popular with climbers and has many marked routes. You are able to camp right along the water near the parking pull out and if you don't mind hikers passing by, it is a beautiful location. We were out in spring after a mid-march snow fall and melt which meant good water. I would love to come back in warmer weather to get wet. I would imagine warmer weather brings crowds.

Very nice. Large sites.

Large mostly shaded sites. Nice visitor center but only the first Saturday each month. Nice bike trail through the woods.

Garden of the God's Recreation area

Great trails within walking distance. One of the most clear and closest to the sky areas in the midwest for sky gazing. The camp sites are nicely sized. Placed in the middle of Shawnee National Forest with plenty of trails, horseback riding, and swimming in a quick drive. Well worth the trip.

so cute

great spot. lots of spots but unfortunately pretty close to each other.

Great place to visit

My family and I have visited this campground once. Although I think there are better places to camp in Kentucky, we definitely enjoyed ourselves. I think it's about WHO you are with and not WHERE you are. My family has a great time anywhere we are. The one downside to this place was that it was pretty close to the road, so I felt like we could hear all the traffic. The campsites are a little small as well, but we didn't mind. Each campsite has a fire ring and a small picnic table. We found it a little hard to nail down our tent as well. It was a little rocky, so we had to remove the rocks under the tent and use a hammer to get the tent to stay. We enjoyed hiking and some "nature walks." There are so many different birds around that it was fun to bird watch- although I have never done this before! The paths are clear and well marked for hiking. The views were great as well, and the weather was perfect when we went. There is a grocery store right down the road that we stopped at before we got there and loaded up on snacks, water, and stuff to make smores. There isn't much shade, just FYI. We brought some umbrellas which helped. We also brought our hammocks, but there wasn't any trees in our campsite to hook them up. We did bring them on our hikes and were able to put them up and eat some lunch. Another downside is that because the spaces are small, the people next to us were a little loud and stayed up pretty late so we didn't get much sleep. We understand that the summer months can be busy, which means campgrounds are packed. Highly recommend reserving your spot ahead of time.

First to Review
Super nice, campsites

Great rates and even better campsites. We got there late and had no problems finding a great campsite right next to the lake.

Amazing, if you can find it

This place is popular with climbers, but I’m not one and had a rough time locating this place. The roads weren’t marked the same way they are on the website’s map, and the trailheads are confusing as well. I’m not sure how or if families manage to reach the bottom of the falls since there’s no clear way to climb down on either trail. We still had a great time, there are great campsites, and the whole surrounding area is awesome.

Quaint and friendly

This campground is family friendly and right on the lake. We were lucky to come on a cooler weekend and get a more private campsite. You can rent kayaks and canoes for cheap at the marina, it’s close to Giant City, and it is everything I love about Southern IL.

Picture perfect

Full hookups to tent camping and spacious sites. This is a Corps of Engineer Campground so bring your America the Beautiful pass! Well maintained on beautiful Rend Lake in southern Illinois. Reservations accepted on reservation.gov. Walk ins also welcome.

Quiet, spacious, very nice

This this is a great camping area overlooking the Ohio River. The sunrise in the sunsets are absolutely beautiful over the river as they outline the bridge stretching across the river. There is not a lot of barge traffic.

First to Review
Conveniently located.

Very convenient off the interstate, but also noisy due to the interstate being right there. Small park, quite a few permanent residents. This was a simple stop over for us, but it served the purpose.

Adventurous

Great place to go for a day hike or stay for a few days. There are 21 miles of trails throughout the park and a large lake. The attractions are all relatively close to the road (cave, "hidden" spring, and trout streams). The campgrounds are easy to get to and close to a few trails. They have kayak and canoe rentals available for the lake and it appeared to be a great place to fish. It was an enjoyable experience.